Teaching Kids the Power of Perspective (READY JET GO!)

One of my most thrilling moments as an Educational Consultant for kids TV happened yesterday. I watched an especially remarkable episode of READY JET GO!, a PBS science series I’ve worked on for a number of years.

ReadyJetGo-team

READY JET GO!’s educational mission is to build on children’s wonder and curiosity about astronomy and earth science via entertaining, funny stories that teach the basics about the planets, moons, stars, asteroids, comets and so on. The premise of the series is that an alien boy named Jet Propulsion has come to Earth from Bortron 7, a distant planet in the Milky Way, with his parents who are intergalactic travel writers. (It’s catchy opening theme song can be enjoyed here.)

The thing with animated programs is that they often take many months to produce, so an early draft of a script I would review takes a year to be presented on air. The episode that knocked my socks off yesterday is called “The Tiny Blue Dot.” This episode addresses the concept of “perspective.” Young children, as you know, can be very self-centered. It takes effort and maturity for kids to see beyond themselves, and have some compassion for the broader world. So, one of the learning goals of the series is to inspire children to think of Earth from a broader point of view, and to realize that our own Sun is actually a star—one of billions in the Milky Way galaxy (which is just one of more than a 100 billion galaxies in the universe)

While looking back at some old script notes I wrote, back in 2014, I found that I had suggested to the writers that we teach young children the word “perspective.” The episode I watched yesterday, entitled “The Tiny Blue Dot” (which is available via Amazon and YouTube for free for subscribers, or a small fee) was inspired by a photo taken in 1990 by NASA’s Voyager 1. As this famous space probe flew to the outer reaches of our solar system, it took a photo of Earth from that distant “perspective.” In it, Earth is just a tiny “pale blue dot” which Carl Sagan eloquently spoke about. He wistfully comments about this distant view of Earth: “On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.”

Inspired by Sagan’s words, RJG series creator Craig Bartlett and composer Jim Lang wrote a beautiful, touching, song “Tiny Blue Dot,” sung by Jet’s parents and the other characters as they look at our planet, billions of miles away. HERE IT IS! Please enjoy and share it with the little “Earthies” that live in your home.

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